A Tribute to our Veterans
To the Jew, Abraham personifies a unique quality of absolute faith. Although he may not be legally Jewish his name is synonymous with being the patriarch of the Jewish people and founder of monotheism, the foundation principle of Judaism. The opening words of this week’s Torah portion state: lech l’cha, when Abraham is asked by God to blindly follow his orders; to leave behind his land, birthplace and the land of his ancestors. And indeed he is lauded for following God’s directive and ignoring the risk to his future hopes, dreams and aspirations. The fact that it may have worked out well is irrelevant, as God’s request did not come with guarantees.
By the time this article goes to print, I can assume an announcement has been made naming a victor in the presidential race. Furthermore I would be willing to bet that a significant minority of Americans will be unhappy. Many may have flippantly stated that if a specific candidate wins they will abandon their land, birthplace and land of their ancestors and immigrate to another country. However despite the hysterics and hyperbole very few of the verbose naysayers have any intention of rescinding their Citizenship. To actually pack up and leave everything you are familiar with is far more difficult than the average person thinks. Although throughout our history our people have been forced to migrate from almost every corner of the globe, those relocating were rarely if ever given another viable alternative.
There of course exceptions to the rule. When you visit Israel (hopefully with our Anshei Emuna group tour in June 2017) you will notice the cacophony of noises in a variety of different languages. Besides English with American, Canadian, British, South African, Australia, New Zealand and Indian accents you can also pick words in Ethiopian, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and a host of other languages that I couldn’t really clarify. To the Jew of 2016, Zionism and Aliyah are not dreams but a reality. Although some may come due to the economic or political declines in their birth countries, the majority come on their own volition to join in solidarity with their brothers and sisters. They come despite the religious discord and political climate; they come because it’s a dream that can finally come to fruition. They come to follow the ancient words spoken by God to Abraham and continue his legacy and build a future for the Jewish people.
Yet there is one other group of dedicated men and women who have taken an oath of allegiance to their country and follow this Abrahamic lesson literally. They too come from all walks of life and speak a variety of different languages. They may vote Democrat or Republican or choose not to vote at all. Yet they all have a common purpose and mission; to protect the freedoms and rights of the United States of America. They are the members of our armed forces who have given up the comforts of home, their friends and social infrastructure. They go wherever they are called including war zones void of any redeeming factor. They combat discord among the local militia, intensive heat and conditions that are beyond anything we can imagine. Abraham decision was based on hearing the voice of God; our soldiers only hear the voice emanating from their hearts. Their dedicating and selflessness is something that every American should proud of and I only hope that we never forget their resolve and heroism.
On is Veterans Day, May the Almighty grant all our men and women who serve in our military, pride in their purpose, strength in their resilience and the ability to return to a hero’s welcome with health, happiness and assurance of a job well done. We salute all the members of Anshei Emuna who have served their country.
Rabbi Jack Engel